Viewing BoingBoing through a Violet Blue pair of shades

I don’t know about you, but I’m completely fascinated with BoingBoing’s deletion of nearly 100 posts (and even some comments) that were in any way related to the San Francisco blogger and sex columnist Violet Blue. Silicon Valley gossip site Valleywag first broke the story last Wednesday (with a very speculative/juicy follow up here) which spread like a wildfire across the web.

BoingBoing’s official response, written by BB moderator Teresa Neilsen Hayden on behalf of the BB crew, did little to put out the flame(war)s. It seems that BoingBoing’s strategy is to just hope that everybody will ignore the whole debacle. Even the blog post’s title, “That Violet Blue Thing“, screams to the reader to just move on and forget about the whole thing. Unfortunately, the tone that Teresa has chosen sounds exactly like the type of corporate spindoctor speak that BoingBoing readers are taught to ignore. Instead of saying these posts were deleted for personal reasons that we just don’t want to get into, Teresa decided to focus on using the word “unpublished” and further stating “There’s a big difference between that and censorship.” Teresa also stated “Boing Boing’s past content is indexed on the Wayback Machine, a basic Internet resource; so the material should still be available for those who would like to read it.” In other words, “here is a link to the stuff that we couldn’t delete from the web”.

I’m obviously not the only person who is captivated by BoingBoing’s actions. By the time I post this, That Violet Blue Thing will probably have reached 1,000 comments. I was strangely captivated as I watched the posts accumulate yesterday, especially when they surpased BoingBoing’s second and first most commented blog posts. At this rate, ” “That Violet Blue thing” will probably have more comments by the end of the week than ALL the other BoingBoing comments totalled!

So, why is this thing pulling out such emotion from all across the internets? Probably because BoingBoing is seen by many as the great bastion against censorship, so the “unpublishing” of any posts pertaining to Violet can obviously by interpreted as hypocrisy by many of us who have bought into that philosophy. While I’m sure, BoingBoing had it’s reasons, there is a lot of good perspective in the comments (mixed in between a bunch of douchery [from both sides]). Check out this comment from Joel Johnson in which it sounds like he’s not totally inline with the official stance.

Personally, I don’t think there could have been a worst time for BoingBoing drama. At a time when half of BB’s posts seem to be reposts of MakeZine links (which are often just reposted from CraftZine) and the other half are plugs for Cory Doctrow’s books, it sometimes feels as though BB is fast becoming “a directory of wonderful things… that we can sell you”.

The irony of all this, as Tom Phillips from Flashboy.org points out, is that if Teresa Nielsen Hayden had been able to FOLLOW HER OWN ADVICE regarding straight talk and pr, this whole kerfuffle would probably have been nothing more than a flash in the pan.

Hell, BoingBoing is still a wonderful directory of the internets, and I doubt in the grand scheme of things this issue will hurt their traffic. I’m sure that both sides are benefiting from the extra site hits they’ll see throughout the week. Although I’ve be bored silly with Monochrom videos, daily Cory Doctrow readings, reposts from other O’Reilly blogs, and Russel Porter interviews, the site’s rss feed is in no danger from being unpublished from my news aggregator anytime soon.

Comments

5 responses to “Viewing BoingBoing through a Violet Blue pair of shades”

  1. Church Avatar

    The absolute tone-deafness of the boingers is what makes this story so compelling.

    (Also a bit of schadenfraude in seeing TNH finally recognized as being a poor moderator, despite talking a good game.)

    However, it is unfortunate that this inevitably distracts from the good things about bb, like the Canadian DMCA posts etc.

  2. The wood dwarf Avatar
    The wood dwarf

    Though i would agree with most of this, it does seem that Mr. Pescovitz’s, Xeni’s, and the occasional Doctorow post are the bastions of hope for BoingBoing. I am, however, done with Fraunfelder, his posts have grown increasingly boring, and as you said all seem to come from make or craftzine.

    Luke AKA Dwarf

  3. doc Avatar

    And then that happened.

    So, for the time being at least, there will be no more comments past #1141. At first I thought it was a shame that they would turn off the comments just as they were getting interesting (and they were finally getting more interesting and less “you guys are Nazis”-ing), but after I started to think about whats going on behind the scenes I can see why they might want to lock comments.

    30 hours after the initial post and I can only imagine how much drivel has had to of been censored from the BoingBoing thread for being ridiculous/hateful/useless. Since the comments weren’t slowing down any, and since there are only so many mods at BoingBoing, turning off comments would be the only way to take a break.

    Unfortunately, I doubt this is just going to be a break. As I mentioned in the post, it seems like BB is all to ready to just move on from this, and turning off the comments is an easy way to avoid it.

    So what’s wrong with avoiding? One point I think I didn’t really get into in my blog post is how I can’t really see BB in the same way again. I’m not concsiouly thinking “these guys are hypocrites” or anything, but I do seem to look at BB posts in a different way now. Hence the title of the blog article, every time I read an article about DMCA or problems with voting machines… the how VB thing is in the back of my head.

  4. doc Avatar

    For those of us following the story, it’s been a big night.
    As Xeni tweeted, the LA times has posted two really good pieces about BiongBoing’s stance on the issue (here and here).
    And Violet just posted a link to a fun but not very thought out from a user experience point of view game here.

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